It’s time for episode two in the Dishonored developer documentary series, this one focused on the creation of the Arkane Studios‘ game world. While the first doc was concerned with explaining how the team envisioned the gameplay in Dishonored — namely how they wanted to set the game apart from the competition — this one centers on the early stages of development.
First and foremost Arkane Studios knew they wanted to create a setting that would rank up their with the iconic video game locales like Black Mesa or Rapture. As Dishonored‘s Visual Design Director Viktor Antonov explains, the town of Dunwall is born from a combination of industrial design and science fiction. Though Dunwall uses whale oil as its major source of export, the staggering amount of decay throughout the city suggests a disproportionate economy.
Using London in the 1660s as its base, the folks at Arkane created Dunwall to be a non-photorealistic city, that still draws heavily from the influence of real life locations. There are certain recognizable elements in every building or piece of architecture, but each is given a little sci-fi twist.
One of the key ideas Antonov wanted to hone in on was the fact that this town runs on crude technology. Suspension, basic fuel, and steam are Dunwall’s basic sources of power, allowing everything from the vehicles to the weapons to run. As one of the game’s first trailers showed, though, Dunwall isn’t trapped in that 1600s aesthetic; it carries some distinct elements from the 1800s and even the 1900s — things like cars and electricity.
And when it came time to design the characters in Dishonored, Antonov went full tilt on that aspect as well, studying British morphology in the hopes of delivering realistic faces with a distinct visual flair. Beyond just the faces, though, Arkane sought out to accurately portray every element of Dunwall’s population, right down to the way the fabric in their clothes moved. It’s an extreme attention to detail, but also makes for a more realistic environment.
Because Dishonored is primarily a stealth action game — players take on the role of a supernatural assassin — the developers needed to ensure the targets and enemies looked as stunning from afar as they did up close. Players might not catch the detail whilst making their daring escape, but on a second or third playthrough (something Arkane encourages) they might.
That isn’t to say Arkane has created photorealistic characters, as we’ve already explained they have not. In fact, they’ve exaggerated the features of various NPCs in order to stress their role in society. For example, the fighters have smaller heads and overly large hands.
And finally the doc takes gamers into the world of voice acting, showing a few of the top name talent that will be lending their voices to the game. Arkane sought out actors like Lena Headey, Susan Sarandon, and John Slattery to help bring the story together in the game’s expository sequences.
It’s a lot to take in, and many of these details will go wholly unnoticed, but just seeing the amount of thought and care that went into the design of Dishonored should help gamers gain a little more respect for the end product. We will see how well everything comes together when the game releases next month.
What do you think of Dishonored‘s design? Does it strike you as something unique and worth checking out?
Dishonored releases October 9, 2012 for the PS3, PC, and Xbox 360.